Le Chat Noir
Cooking is an easy thing, you just need to have three basic components: passion, quality and ingredients.
The history of the Black Cat, Le Chat Noir, began in the ’90s in via Carlo Bordonaro in Cefalù, thanks to the passion of the Natoli family, who over time have transformed a simple bakery into what is now the restaurant. The reason for the name is as simple and intuitive as its cuisine which is based on genuine choices, using the products of the Sicilian land.
Let’s start at the beginning, why “Black Cat”?
“The Black Cat was born in via Carlo Bordonaro. If you looked out on that street, on the cliffs, you could see a lot of black cats, hence the name of the place. We started out in the 90s as a bakery. My dad used to make two or three types of spaghetti just for friends, also because our family was not specialised in it, it was not our field. It all started more from the passion than from training or experience. From there, however, we laid the foundations to get this far. In the 2000’s we moved to an old abandoned place, from the 16th century, which used to be a ballroom in the ’60.”
How is the venue organised? How many people can it accommodate?
“We did all the renovation work ourselves, the whole family took part in the process. So today we have 104 seats, including the outdoor area. We have something new here – the “Cantina” (the cellar), and we will use it to try to give an extra service and an exclusive experience of a gourmet dinner, only available by reservation. In the Cantina of Le Chat Noir, you have the opportunity to ask any questions about our selection of sparkling and regular wines directly to the maître and discuss with the chef the recipes and the menu. We expect a passionate and curious audience. We were looking for something that would encourage us, and this is where the idea of the ”Cantina“ comes from.
What are the distinguishing features of your cuisine?
Cooking is an easy thing, you just need to have three basic components: passion, quality and ingredients. That’s all. You don’t have to look for very peculiar things, you have to work with the products of the land, the Sicilian local products. It’s a pity to work with products that don’t belong to us.
A few years ago, in 2015, you received an award that in the Western world is the equivalent of the Michelin Guide from the Eastern Top Choice rating platform. It’s a great recognition as a top restaurant…
“It’s the equivalent of the 3 Michelin forks. Three judges came to the restaurant undercover. They sent us the various photos and informed us that they had given us this award as a sign of recognition for our food. In fact, since 2015, we have increased our Asian customer base by around 40%. Almost all Asians prefer red shrimp, pasta with sardines – more fish than anything else. They are not as interested in meat. Furthermore, they like dishes made with simple ingredients, such as the fry-up of anchovies and sardines, or the roulades of swordfish. The Japanese have an impressive fish culture, so when they come it’s a pleasure because they have their own culture of eating, they ask you how and why a dish was made. It’s a wonderful clientele.”
Italian cuisine is also appreciated abroad, but it can only be described as a copy of the real thing. With a customer who hasn’t had experience of real Italian cuisine previously, what would you recommend?
“Not pasta with sardines, for example, because it has some very strong flavours. I would recommend a simple homemade pasta with zucchini from my garden, with cherry tomatoes and salted ricotta cheese from Buccheri, a small village in the province of Syracuse, made by a family-run company. A light dish, with local flavours. Or a buccherese, my favourite dish, made with homemade olive paste, fresh tomato, salted anchovies and Parmesan cheese, all well sautéed. Obviously, we don’t use any butter or cream, there’s a ban in our kitchen on these products, we use the queens: garlic, onion and extra virgin olive oil.